Great things have come out of the cloud. Jim Parkinson, Chief Experience Officer for North American Bancard, points out that these “massively shared, unowned environments” are proven to enable success. “A small company or a bunch of people in a garage can succeed by developing in shared environments. Companies that have come out of them have been amazing,” he says.
Parkinson lists five significant benefits that developing in the cloud can offer any software company, from a startup to a mature business.
- Speed of innovation
Shared environments pool a greater number of resources than a single company has on its own, especially taking the current talent shortage into account. “The software community is made up of people who want to contribute,” Parkinson says. “In a highly shared environment, you have more smart people who are engaged and innovation can occur faster.”
An investment in building a data center environment is significant. With the cloud, costs to get started are significantly lower. Parkinson adds that the cloud also eliminates maintenance necessary to keep a data center operating, including stocking parts, controlling the environment, servicing a fire suppression system, monitoring and testing, and security. “If we don’t have to do it, it lets us focus resources on innovation and business,” he says. “The savings in people and capital are very tangible, but it also allows businesses to apply those savings to make their businesses better.”
When you need additional resources, the cloud makes it easy to scale. Parkinson comments, however, that equally important is the minimal risk if you need fewer resources in the future. You haven’t invested in computing power that will go unused. “Being able to grow is good, but being able to shrink is better,” he comments.
“Security is significantly better in the cloud,” Parkinson says. “Some people would object to that. If you’re about to invest in building a new financial system with all the software and hardware needed for security, it’s already there in the cloud, and it’s better. The more people that are contributing and enrich an environment through shared experience, the better it gets.”
When you’re working in a cloud environment, managing email, archiving information and performing system backups, once they’re set up, take care of themselves. It also eliminates having to have people come in and pick up backups to store them off-site.
Cloud is an enabler. You’re the developer.
It’s essential to point out that cloud won’t drive innovation, scalability or code quality. The software engineer’s expertise and ability to think through and solve problems are the drivers. “The cloud gives you access to more technology, but you still have to use the same discipline and policies to build software,” Parkinson says. “You need to be smart enough to take advantage of the resources in front of you to develop faster and more easily.”
He says access to experts in a cloud space is significant. “I’m good at the things I’m good at. In a massive shared environment, you can take advantage of other people’s expertise,” he says. “Cloud providers like AWS, encourage you to partner in the cloud.”
Parkinson points out that there are people who are skeptical about developing in a shared environment, often the result of listening to people with agendas who try to convince developers that security in the cloud is subpar or make them think twice about working in an environment where their competition may be. “With knowledge and experience, you’ll have a better understanding about a shared environment and what’s possible,” he says.
“I believe that the economy and culture will continue to form around the cloud,” Parkinson adds. “Everything works better when the ecosystem is all about sharing, and it’s an important technology that will continue to impact how businesses grow.”